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Austin Honors Martin Luther King Jr. with Annual March, Day of Service

Hundreds of people marched from the University of Texas campus to the state Capitol and then on to Huston-Tillotson University to celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in Austin on Monday.

Organizers of the 24th annual “Community March” said the day was meant to celebrate King’s legacy and to inspire diversity and multiculturalism. The event began with a short program at the MLK statue on the UT campus. Attendees heard from many officials, including Greg Fenves, the president of the university. Fenves commemorated the first black undergraduates to enroll at UT in the 1950s, when they were met with discrimination, intolerance and racism.

Eleven-year-old Danielle Todd-Harris was the crowd favorite. The fifth-grader at Blackshear Elementary won the MLK Children’s Oratory Competition this year.  In a speech, she credited the many people who paved the way for her as a young, African-American girl.

“Thanks to them, now I can go to school and learn, eventually go to any college I choose. I don’t have to serve other people against my will,” she said. “I can be what I want to be because I am just as American as anybody else, and no one is going to take that away from me.”

For many, the holiday is a National Day of Service, with volunteers using their time off from work to give back to the community. In an effort to promote community giving, this year’s marchers were asked to help people in need by donating to the Central Texas Food Bank.